Immigration to Canada: Responding to Refugee Housing Demand

In her past life, Aziza Abu Sirdana knew only war, conflict, fear and isolation.

“If you were born in Gaza, you don’t know what life is,” she told CTV National News.

The 22-year-old Palestinian refugee fled to Canada after learning of her father and grandfather’s plans to hunt her down and kill her.

She arrived in Canada on March 24, 2022 full of hope for a new start in life. His struggles continued only on Canadian soil.

CTV National News first met Abu Sirdana in early November, after he stabbed herself in the stomach with a knife just below her rib cage during a meeting with federal government officials with Immigration , Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). She said she had taken the dangerous step in a desperate plea for safe accommodation.

For more than seven months, Abu Sirdana has been stuck in a refugee hotel west of Toronto. While there, she and other refugees say they were separated and degraded by staff working for a taxpayer-funded resettlement agency. Strangers were also arriving at the hotel and preying on Abu Sidana and others, while trying to lure them into the sex trade, she said.

Sitting on a park bench a day after being released from hospital, Abu Sirdana told CTV National News: “I put a knife in my body because nobody cares. Seriously, nobody cares.

But it turns out there are Canadians who care. After the 22-year-old shared her story with CTV National News, a family contacted refugee lawyer Mona Elshayal.

« A very nice woman reached out to me, very worried because she has a daughter the same age. She felt bad because she was thinking, what if it was my daughter? She just wanted do what she could to help her,” Elshayal shares.

Just last week, Abu Sirdana moved into a two-bedroom condo with the family’s daughter in Ottawa. All the young refugee says she always wanted was a space where she felt safe. An apartment with its own bathroom and toilet. She now has that and a sense of humanity and self-esteem she never felt.

She can’t help but smile as she talks about her new surrogate. « She gave me a chance in life. She said I am here for you, if you need anything call me, if you are sick I will be there the next day. Can you imagine someone being so nice? »

Abu Sirdana’s new Canadian family asked to remain anonymous, but the mother shares that she just wanted to « give Aziza a safe place to live, in our Canada, the Canada that my daughter lives in. I want Aziza make your dreams come true. »

Abu Sirdana does not hesitate to say that she is Muslim and that the family that took her in as one of their own is Jewish. An unthinkable act of kindness in the midst of conflict at home is now a reality here on this side of the world.

Abu Sirdana said she couldn’t “imagine there being a Jewish family, who would say ‘welcome’ (and open their doors to a Muslim from Gaza) but this is Canada. That’s life in Canada.

“Here in this country you have all these people from different places all living together. You can walk where you want, talk to whoever you want, be friends with whoever you want,” she said.

Elshayal, who helped facilitate the life-changing move, said: « I hope she feels she is in a safe place, that she has a family, that she has people who care. her and that she has all the opportunities as she should when coming to Canada.

Abu Sirdana had to suspend his university studies and now hopes to continue his studies and his life.

« I feel reborn, » she said, adding that before, « I didn’t know what love is, I didn’t know what life is.

Thanks to the generosity of a Canadian family, she can now hope to experience it.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources available.

Canadian Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)

Center for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)


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